It’s a hard job being a dietitian-nutritionist. It’s not so much that the hours are long and grueling or that’s it super labor intensive. It’s not even that the paperwork and dealing with insurance companies can get overwhelming or that patients and diseases can be hard to manage. Nope, the hardest part about my job sometimes is when the work day ends. When I get home and am asked to ‘approve’ what’s served for dinner. When out with friends who feel like I might be conducting nutritional analysis of what’s on their plate. When I go home for holidays to find my brothers are cringing about what super food dish they’ll feel obligated to try served alongside the mashed potatoes. When at a friend’s birthday party I’m told, “now I know you don’t eat cake, but…’ Yup, the hardest part of my job is convincing people that I’m human. That I have food philosophies I LOVE to share with my patients, or family and friends when I’m asked, but underneath the white coat and series of silly letters behind my name, I TOO EAT CAKE! And, I think everyone should on occasion, if they really want to.
I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, the basic strategies I share with patients about the approaches to health and healing with food I live and counsel by, and I’ve highlighted them again below. Each one deserves its own soap box, but this time in lieu of sharing nutrition insight, I’ve included my Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipe instead, because sometimes, we just need to give it a rest. That goes for all things in life, especially our approaches to food and nutrition.
Philosophy Applied at Least…
Foundation of whole, real foods 90% of the Time
Most of those having been plucked, picked, or foraged for (i.e. plants) 80% of the Time
Half of those in their fresh, raw state 50% of the Time
Conscious consumption of animal foods 20% of the Time
Occasionally, foregoing all of this 10% of the Time
Ultimate Ginger Molasses Cookies
YIELD: Makes 2 1/2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour – Weisenberger Mills is locally milled in Appalachia
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger – A bit more if using fresh grated
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons salt – J.Q. Dickinson salt is my local fave
1 large egg – Farm fresh if you’ve got access
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted – Real butter from real cows. Coconut oil works great too.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Coarse sanding or raw sugar for rolling – Use gold decorating sugar if you really want to be fancy
Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine.
Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls (if dough is sticky, chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (over-baked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
MAKE AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made and rolled into balls 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on a baking sheet; transfer to resalable plastic bags. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling in sugar
These have been my go-to cookie recipe pretty much since I learned how to bake. The recipe has evolved as I have and has undergone every recipe modification known to man. In all my highly scientific experimentation, what I’ve observed and concluded is that baking is both a science and an art. Also, baking cookies (in my family at least) is a tradition and a treat that should be enjoyed mindfully and respectfully in that regard!
I’m interested in knowing how you choose to let your hair down when it comes to food? What are your favorite holiday treats and what recipe modifications (or disasters) have you made?
Happy Holidays from My Kitchen to Yours!